Grilled Zucchini With Big Beans, Kale & Mustard Vinaigrette

August 21, 2020
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

Bean salads often get a bad reputation—soggy, bland, and unloved at a summer potluck. Often the beans shed their dressing as they sit, leaving unremarkable legumes on top and a puddle of acidic dressing at the bottom of the bowl. Plus, not a single bite tastes as fresh as the produce available when the days are this long and hot.

Enter: the Spanish technique, escabeche, in which a warm ingredient cools in a tangy dressing, drawing flavor into the center of the ingredient as it comes down in temperature. Most often used for fish, this trick works brilliantly for vegetables and beans, leaving each tasting bright and slightly pickle-y. What’s more, the dressing’s acidity helps sidestep an ingredient going off and makes for refreshing, lightning-fast meals in the middle of summer.

This recipe calls for the gigante beans of Spain and Greece, but can be made with royal corona beans or any other broad bean. Similarly, the summer squash and kale can be swapped out for any other vegetable in your crisper that needs to be used up. In August, I feel like my sole job is to eat through as much zucchini as possible but, then again, sometimes it is green beans or peppers or cherry tomatoes or eggplant, all of which would be at home atop these marinated beans.

I like to keep the summer squash in large planks for ease of grilling (and beauty in table presentation), but if you’re making this for a socially distant potluck or work lunch, you can dice the grilled zucchini and combine with the beans and kale for a more traditional—but not sad—summer bean salad. —abraberens

Test Kitchen Notes

Every month, in Eat Your Vegetables, chef, Ruffage cookbook author, and former farmer Abra Berens shares a seasonal recipe that puts vegetables front and center (where they should be!). Missed an installment? Head here to catch up. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound gigante or royal corona beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 yellow onion, halved
  • 10 sprigs thyme (optional)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 parsley stems, roughly chopped
  • 5 dill stems, roughly chopped
  • 4 medium zucchini and/or summer squash, cut into long wedges or planks
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale (any variety), washed, stripped, and cut into ribbons
  1. Boil the beans with the onion and thyme until cooked through, about 35 minutes (though it might take longer, depending on their age).
  2. Meanwhile, mix together the shallot, olive oil, mustard, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, honey, and a big pinch of salt.
  3. Drain the beans and discard the onion and thyme. Immediately dress the still-warm beans with the mustard vinaigrette and chopped herbs, and let cool to room temperature.
  4. Dress the squash wedges with a hefty drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and grind of black pepper. Grill over medium-high heat until golden brown all over and just starting to soften.
  5. In a large bowl, massage the kale with a pinch of salt and glug of olive oil until tender.
  6. When the beans have cooled, taste and add more salt as desired.
  7. To serve, spoon the beans into a bowl, top with a pile of massaged kale, and then the grilled squash.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Shanna Nispel
    Shanna Nispel
  • Thom Langer
    Thom Langer
Abra Berens is a chef, author, and former vegetable farmer. She started cooking at Zingerman's Deli, trained at Ballymaloe in Cork, Ireland. Find her at Granor Farm in Three Oaks, MI. Her first two cookbooks Ruffage and Grist are out now. The third Pulp: a practical guide to cooking with fruit publishes on April 4th, 2023.

2 Reviews

Shanna N. August 1, 2022
Used cannellini beans and topped with some Mountain High Whole Milk yogurt - yummy!!!
Thom L. September 5, 2021
I really enjoyed this recipe - so did the crew! One change I made though - fast fry the kale with a bit of garlic and olive oil, along with some chard left over, and it all came together beautifully. We had tomahawk steak too...what a combo!